Bella Roma

Typical 3 wheeled 'tuck tucks' lined up near Piazza Navona
Typical 3 wheeled 'tuck tucks' lined up near Piazza Navona

What better time to start writing the first article of my blog than a rainy afternoon in the city that brought about some significant changes in my life and career: ROMA. After waking up this morning to constantly horning cars passing below my window on the Lungotevere (ahh, how I missed that ;-) , I did some Yoga exercises and went down to the corner bar to start the day with a nice cappucino sciumoso (that's what you tell them, when you want more of the creamy milk foam instead of steamed milk). Zipping the warm cappucino foam, I looked at the other Italians in the bar , who were loudly complaining about the recent change in weather (of course, no sun in Rome is dramatic ;-).

I've always loved the way Italians accompany their talking with seemingly uncontrolled, wild gesticulations, but today I noticed for the first time that there must actually be some deeper sense to it. One of them, a deaf-mute, heavily gesticulating as all the others, seemed to be just as well understood as everybody else and was well involved into the conversation. And, no, they did not speak sign language ;-) Now we know, gesticulating has deep cultural roots in Italy and is actually part of the language.

 

After this nice morning bar scene, I got ready to meet a friend at Piazza del Popolo. It's a nice stroll crossing the bridge to the centro storico, wandering over Piazza Navona and through the narrow little cobble stoned alleys, breathing in all the different scents from restaurants preparing for lunch, wonderful cheese shops, like Volpetti on Via della Scrofa, and coffee, coffee on every corner. So I stop for another café macchiato at the Café Ripetta (on Via Ripetta), where they draw beautiful patterns of liquid chocolate on top of the creamy foam of your cappuccino or any of the numerous ways you can order your coffee with milk in Italy.

 

My culinary tour then continues into the less touristy area of San Lorenzo, where I used to live until this June in my beautiful historic appartment inside the ancient Roman Walls. I met a friend for lunch at a very nice macrobiotic bistro and shop: Un Punto Macrobiotico in Via dei Volsci. I like to eat there, since the guys there really care about quality. Everything is 100% organic and the head of the association is constantly checking on their suppliers to assure the best quality of their vegetables, grains and fruit. We indulged in Cous-Cous Gnocchi with fresh basil-almond pesto, vegetarian and fish arancini (the original sicilian ones have meat and cheese in them), and a fresh fillet of sgombro fish, and finished with a nice crostata di susine (basically a pie crust with marmelade on top). The food is nothing exceptional, but it's a great place to have a good, healthy, quick lunch and also a great take away, if you don't feel like preparing dinner.

 

Since the rain continued, I decided to go straight back to Trastevere to dry off and warm up. But before arriving, I needed to stop in one of my favourite places in Trastevere 'cioccolata e vino' in Vicolo del Cinque for ... of course another coffee :-) Here you can get one of the nicest hot chocolates in Rome, the 'real' one from Turino, made from scratch with pure dark chocolate and no additives or binding agents. And their coffee gets served with a little coffee bean made from dark chocolate on the bottom of each cup, delicious. And if you feel more in drinking mood, you can have one of their various rhums or other special liquors, served in a cup of chocolate, topped with whipped cream and cocoa powder. Not really the most healthy thing after a macrobiotic meal, but yummmmy.

And speaking about chocolate, last night, I had one of the best gelatos ever. Passing by Via Arenula on my way home, I discover a little gelateria (Gelateria Corona, Largo Arenula 27), which had a sign out that I've last seen at a gelateria on Piazza Venezia last year. It said: Chocolate Week! Looking up from the sign, I recognized the owner inside, who was the same person from the other gelateria. I was the happiest person and even though I was overfilled from a delicious meal at my friends house in Monti, I could not resist and entered. About 15 types of chocolate flavours, amongst them dark chocolate with double malt beer, dark chocolate with tobacco, dark chocolate with marsala wine, and an incredible white chocolate with rose flavour. I chose three and drifted back home on a cloud. A shame, he only does it once a year in September for one week.

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Comments: 7
  • #1

    jessicaM (Friday, 19 September 2008 22:04)

    hey boris! nice to hear your take on roman flavors. keep writing!

  • #2

    Manovella (Saturday, 20 September 2008 11:54)

    Mortacci Bo, m'hai fatto venì 'na fame....argh.. :))
    Mi piace! :))

  • #3

    Blondel (Monday, 22 September 2008 18:43)

    Boris, you're like an artist living in a tasty way your life and lookingin your own private way the world.

    I'm fascinating by reading the roman chocholate adventures of this little boy :)))

    thanks for sharing!

  • #4

    Margherita Sini (Thursday, 25 September 2008 12:09)

    Che fame davvero...... vengo sicuramente a trovarti per provare tutte queste SANE squisitezze!

  • #5

    Gauri (Thursday, 25 September 2008 20:37)

    Nice start Bo! So, after that delicious dinner, you still had time for a gelato?! Why am I not surprised! ;-)

    Keep writing!!! I look forward to the Arizona adventure!

  • #6

    michael (Tuesday, 30 September 2008 00:45)

    hi, finally catching up to this thing...i'll have to check out the trast cioc e vino place...either you or someone else has talked about it but i have to get there.
    you said the owner in the gelateria on via arenula was from the other gelateria- which other one? i did go by and they still have chocolate specials listed on the outside- i'll try it out next time.
    i disagree with service in rome- i find it like the romans- busy, disinvolti, a bit brash but kind, maybe slow but rarely rude. i just had some friends visiting from paris and they went on and on about the lack of service there. and then there's london. and in ny where they ask you leave because other people are waiting- something unheard of in rome- where the pace doesn't compete with the digestive process!
    baci, m

  • #7

    Boris Lauser (Tuesday, 30 September 2008 17:18)

    This is true, of course there are many other places where you get bad service. Certainly, there are many places in Rome, where you get extremely good service and there is definitely a point in 'once you sit, you can sit quietly forever'! The point I wanted to make here is more about a general Roman 'rudeness', which has been noticed also by many of my Italian friends. It has it's own charm though and as I said, Rome wouldn't be the same without it. I myself don't really consider the Romans to be rude, people show different ways of behavior in different places, cultural differences. But they can be taken the wrong way if you don't fully understand the culture. In the end, the point I wanted to make, picking Rome only as an example is more general summed up in the heading: A note on customer service!